Former Davidson College teammates Bryant Barr, left, and Stephen Curry made a return trip to North Carolina for last year’s NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte. The two met nearly 15 years ago on a recruiting trip to Davidson and have remained tight friends. Photo courtesy of Bryant Barr

It’s an unlikely friendship, that of Bryant Barr, a former Falmouth High star, and Stephen Curry, one of the best basketball players in the world. They met in their senior year of high school, both on a recruiting visit to Davidson College. Nearly 15 years later, their bond is stronger than ever.

Curry is the basketball maestro, with millions of fans across the globe. Barr, as president of SC30 Inc., oversees Curry’s off-court projects. And one of those was the recent one-on-one interview Curry had with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and, for many, the calming face of reason during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was interviewed by Stephen Curry in an Instagram video seen by 3 million unique viewers. AP

“I just helped tee it up and passed it over to Stephen to finish the hard work,” said the 32-year-old Barr, who now lives in Redwood City, California, with his wife, Brittany, and sons Everett (3) and Avery (19 months).

“That’s my job. And it’s great because (Curry) is so responsible and thoughtful about his responsibilities.”

The interview took place on March 27 on Instagram, where Curry has nearly 30 million followers – most of them likely from a demographic that does not tune into daily White House briefings on the coronavirus response. “We wanted to get it in front of as many people as possible and to have it as accessible as possible,” said Barr.

The interview lasted about 28 minutes, with Curry asking Dr. Fauci questions about the virus, social distancing and testing. Since it aired, Barr said it has been viewed on Curry’s social media channels by 3 million unique viewers in 146 countries, a total of over 100,000 hours of watch time.

“Steph got no money out of this,” said Barr. “It was just doing the right thing at the right time. We live in a world right now where some people understand we’re in a pandemic, but there are a lot who don’t understand the gravity and weight of the pandemic. Something like this needs to be heard and understood.

“We felt Stephen was well-versed and prepared enough that he could conduct a conversation that would deliver digestible and clear facts to that audience. And it was impressive. I felt like I was watching a 60 Minutes episode.”

Stephen Curry and Bryant Barr played together on a Davidson team that reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA basketball tournament in 2008. Photo courtesy of Bryant Barr

Barr was the 2006 winner of the Mr. Basketball Award, given to the outstanding senior player in the state. He finished his Falmouth career with a school-record 1,464 points.

He had big dreams and ended up on a recruiting trip to Davidson, located in North Carolina. There, on a visit, he met Curry, the son of Dell Curry, a 16-year NBA veteran. The two hit it off immediately, drawn by their faith and love of the game. They became roommates and fast friends and shared the spotlight when Davidson, a mid-major school, made its stunning 2008 run to the NCAA Elite Eight, defeating Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Georgetown.

Curry was the star, and became the seventh pick of the 2009 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors. Leaving school after his junior year was a shrewd move. Curry is a two-time MVP and helped the Warriors win three NBA titles and advance to five consecutive NBA Finals.

Barr went into the real world. After graduation, he joined a financial firm as an actuarial analyst. Then he worked at Nike. Later, he earned an MBA from Stanford in 2014. He and Curry remained close, with Curry serving as the best man at Barr’s wedding.

The two originally joined to form Slyce, a social networking company featuring Curry’s brands. “It went the route of a start-up death,” said Barr. “But it was an amazing experience.”

Now, they are together on SC30 Inc., which oversees all of Curry’s brands, investments, philanthropy and social media platforms.

“We’ve come full circle,” said Barr. “We’ve learned to separate friendship from work. And it’s a joy to be able to work with someone like him.”

One thing they no longer do is play basketball with each other. “Absolutely not,” said Barr. “There’s a difference between being competitive and being a glutton for punishment. And life is different for us. I shoot around a little, but you work, then you want to prioritize your time with your family. I leave the basketball to him. He’s one of the best in the world.”

As far as their friendship?

“It’s absolutely stronger than it was years ago,” said Barr. “We live eight minutes apart. Our wives are best friends. Our kids play together. And we work together. That’s a hard dynamic, to juggle all those things. But we’ve figured it out.

“As a friend, he’s just a normal dude, a great person. He hasn’t changed a bit from the guy I knew in college. He has the same good heart and humility and a willingness to go the extra mile for people around him, whether he knows them or not. The world knows him as a great basketball player. But to me, he’s my roommate and teammate. It’s surreal at times.”

Barr has tried to get Curry – who was unavailable for comment for this story – to Maine “for 15 years now. It will probably happen when he retires.”

Barr’s family still lives in Falmouth. His mother, Susan, said she got a call from him after the videos of college students partying on Florida beaches, despite the early warnings about the spread of coronavirus, went nationwide.

“He was frustrated and said he was going to try to reach (Dr. Fauci),” she said. “I said, ‘How the heck are you going to get hold of him?’ “

Barr had heard Dr. Fauci on Barstool Sports “Pardon My Take” podcast and figured he might want to reach out to another different audience. He reached out to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and asked if they would be open to an Instagram Live chat with Curry. “They were thrilled,” said Barr.

The feeling was that Fauci would reach an audience beyond CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. In a matter of two days, it came together. Instagram was chosen because Curry has such a large following: 29.8 million. Curry asked simple questions, such as how the coronavirus is different from the flu and how it transmits; why social distancing is so important; what needs to happen before large gatherings, like basketball, can return. Fauci spoke, as always, with authority.

“We gave Steph a four-page brief on Dr. Fauci,” said Barr. “And he did his own research. He was prepared and ready to engage in the conversation. He knew what he was talking about.”

The message, to Curry’s audience, was simple: stay at home and flatten the curve so you don’t put others at risk.

“The fact of the matter is that he is doing what more athletes and celebrities who have similar platforms should be doing, using that platform responsibly,” said Barr. “This is a message that doesn’t get delivered without him.”

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